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HomeMay 15-31, 2024Thank You Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry

Thank You Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry

Shaukat Ali Jawaid

I feel very sad while writing this column but will begin thanking Prof. Mahmood Ayaz Vice Chancellor and the faculty of King Edward Medical University for organizing a condolence meeting for the three eminent medical personalities i.e. Prof.Zafarullah Chaudhry, Prof. Irshad Hussain Qureshi and Prof. Asif Baig Mirza who left this world last month within a week. I had the chance to attend this meeting online and would like to endorse each and every word spoken at the meeting by different speakers. I myself had good interaction with all of them and I always cherish the sweet memories of our discussions. I had a detailed interview with Prof. Irshad Hussain Qureshi after his retirement wherein he did not mince words and spoke out with courage and determination. Prof. Asif Baig Mirza never knew what diplomacy was, as a councilor of CPSP as a part of the seven member opposition group lead by Prof.Kh Sadiq Hussain, he was the most aggressive and vocal among all of them and CPSP administration was afraid of him all the time as he would never spare anyone whenever he got an opportunity.

President of the EMMJ5 Medical Journals Conference organized by Pakistan Association of Medical Editor(PAME) Late Dr. Maqbool H. Jafary presenting a memento to Late Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry President of CPSP at the conference dinner on December 04, 2010. (Photo from file).

However, toady’s column is mostly for Prof.Zafarullah Chaudhry. Speakers at the condolence meeting shared lot of information and highlighted his qualities as a brilliant and competent surgeon, excellent teacher and good leader and mentor but I wish to put on record some of the encounters I had with him and many councilors are witness to its authenticity. I would also like to thank him for his valuable help, patronage, assistance and guidance of which the details will follow.

We are all human beings and to err is human. We all have our weaknesses and Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry was no exception. However, the greatest thing which happened in CPSP under his leadership was a change of culture. CPSP leadership started listening to everyone with patience, respected every one even their critics, they may or may not accept the viewpoint but always gave respect to all which was lacking in the previous administration. However, this is not to minimize the great contributions made by all the previous presidents of CPSP and Prof. Sultan Farooqui in particular in the development of CPSP. He was an excellent administrator and knew the art of getting things done in no time. Once I told him that no where elections for faculty are held in academic institutions, in fact those who are competent and capable are requested to come forward and make some contributions but he did not agree with my viewpoint. Hence, when the first time faculty elections were held, many non-entities and Lilliputians in the academic field got elected with the result that CPSP had to later nominate some distinguished people as faculty members.

Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry was an important member of Prof. Sultan Farooqui group. Though we knew each other well but my first detailed encounter with him took place when he had delivered a speech about CPSP at Allama Iqbal Medical College auditorium in Lahore. He praised Prof. Sultan Farooqui too much, used some superlatives about him and in fact most of his speech was in praise of Prof. Sultan Farooqui. At the tea interval I asked him he should have highlighted the importance and functioning of the CPSP instead of praising an individual. People come and go and we need to project and promote institutions rather than projecting personalities. A few other faculty members were also present and it was not palatable for him.

Group photograph of some faculty members from Pakistan alongwith foreign delegates attending EMMJ5 Medical Journals Conference held at CPSP Campus Karachi in December 2010 with Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry the President of CPSP who was the chief guest on this occasion. (Photo from File).

When Fatima Jinnah Medical College academic council under the leadership of Prof. M. Akbar Chaudhry the then Principal passed a resolution against CPSP, Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry along with Prof. Rashid Latif Khan and Prof. Farrukh had accompanied Prof. Sultan Farooqui to meet the provincial health officials. Other participants of the meeting chaired by Dr. Tahir Javed included Prof. M. Akbar Chaudhry, Prof. Mumtaz Hasan, Prof. Waseem Yousuf and Prof. Fahmida Naheed but the differences could not be resolved.

In the meantime CPSP had already taken punitive action against FJMC faculty members depriving them of supervisor ship and examiners. Later when JPMC academic council also passed a resolution against CPSP, they derecognized both JPMC and DUHS and it was breaking news on the electronic media. At that time I had told Prof. Sultan Farooqui that the way they had treated Prof. Kh. Sadiq Husain who enjoys tremendous respect in the medical profession all over the country, they will have to pay a very heavy price for that in the days to come when no Haque Nawaz or Bhutta will be able to help them.

Then a time came that Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry realized the seriousness of the prevailing situation and decided to lead the group from Lahore. In the elections, they had a landslide victory got elected nineteen out of twenty councilors just Prof. Rashid Latif Khan an eminent obstetricians & gynecologist who was the pioneer of IVF programme in Pakistan, had trained too many postgraduates and also enjoyed great respect could survive that onslaught. When the election results were announced I was there at the CPSP.

I congratulated Prof.Zafarullah Chaudhry and other newly elected councilors who had all assembled but then hastened to add that I am not happy. I thought you will and should win the elations or present a strong opposition. I was not at all in favour of such a landslide victory. It is quite likely that you will get the impression that all of you who got elected are very popular which was not the case. Fellows wanted change and you provided them an alternate platform. There is a great danger that power might go to the head of the newly elected councilors and you all also start behaving like your predecessors. I will monitor your performance and closely look at what they do. It was of course not palatable for all the councilors who said they did not expect that I will start criticizing them form the very first day. I told them I am their well wisher and a well wisher of CPSP. We need to project and promote this institution.

They had organized a dinner at Pearle Continental the same night and all of them were going there. They invited me to join them first I declined but later on great insistence of a number of councilors I agreed. Prof. S. M. Rab was also invited. At the dinner table I again repeated what I had stated earlier and I must admit most of them including Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry, Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal, Prof.Amjad, Amer Aziz, Shoaib Shafi and Amer Zaman said they would welcome constructive criticism and also appreciate good suggestions and valuable feedback. I must again admit that they have all lived up to this promise till today. They keep on tolerating me though at times it is very critical of their functioning. They always listen patiently and explain their viewpoint.

After a few years I went to see Prof.Zafarullah Chaudhry and pointed out that the Dissertation which is mandatory for appearing in the Fellowship exam was of no use. No one reads these dissertations, no paper from that data is ever published, postgraduates get it prepared by making payment hence it fails to achieve the objective of promoting research culture. It will be much better if dissertation is replaced by scientific papers published in peer reviewed standard medical journals which should be recognized by CPSP after evaluation or give the option to postgraduates to either write scientific papers or prepare dissertation. He agreed and within four weeks the CPSP offered this facility and also issued a list of recognized journals. It did contain a few journals which should not have been there but perhaps they were under some pressure.

However, as always happen those journals later ceased publication. I would like to thank him and the CPSP for that. CPSP has now eliminated Dissertation and completely replaced it with scientific papers. At another occasion when I proposed at the Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medial Editors (EMAME) conference at Bahrain in 2008 that Pakistan would like to host the next EMAME conference I had CPSP as the venue in my mind. On return I enquired, Prof.Zafarullah Chaudhry was not in the country; I met Prof. Abdullah Jan Jaffer the then Senior Vice President and discussed it with him.

He agreed with the proposal. I told him that I will discus it with President Prof.Zafarullah Chaudhry as well before making the announcement. I went to see Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry when he visited Karachi after two weeks. He immediately agreed to host the EMAME Conference. I told him that I need it to be approved by the Council and even if one out of twenty councilors does not agree I won’t be interested. He said you don’t trust me, I said No and then clarified that I know my weaknesses very well. I have some principles on which I don’t compromise and always try to uphold professional ethics. I have never been a member of any Praise Singers Club. As a medical journalist it is not possible for me to please every one. I know I am not a very popular person and I don’t wish to be but would like to be honest to the profession which I have chosen.

There are people who if do not hate me at least do not like me but respect me. If after some time any of the councilors say that they do not like me and you refuse to provide me the venue, it will be very embarrassing situation for me. I have to confirm to WHO and invite foreign delegates from all the twenty EMRO countries. Hence the whole council should give approval. Not only that I have some other demands which are that CPSP will be one of the collaborating institutions for the conference, it will provide all the logistic, IT as well as audiovisual support. We also need rooms at the Guest House to accommodate our foreign delegates; of course will pay the charges.

The auditorium needs to be renovated and during the four days of conference there will be no CPSP academic activity. All this has to be agreed by the council. When I insisted saying that I knew in the past CPSP having allowed its venue for holding Neurosurgeons conference had withdrew the facility at the last minute and Prof. Rashid Jooma had to arrange it at a hotel at the last minute and I don’t wish to face any such situation. He agreed and I remain highly obliged to him and the whole CPSP council for that. They accepted all our demands. Burki Auditorium was also renovated working day and night the last finishing touches it got a night before we had the inaugural session.

We held the EMAME conference at CPSP campus in December 2010 which attracted thirty four foreign delegates from eighteen countries. It was one of the most important and successful EMAME conferences with excellent scientific programme. Prof. Zafrullah Chaudhry was the chief guest at the conference dinner and also presented mementoes to our guests. Delegates were also introduced to the CPSP and they enjoyed their stay at the beautiful campus with lot of greenery and lush green lawns. Thank you Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry and the CPSP for all this.

At another occasion the councilors were coming out after attending the meeting and it was just a coincidence that I was also at the CPSP. After having met them while standing in the corridors I asked them what is the name of this institution? They all started looking at me and said you don’t know? I said I wish to listen from them. When I insisted, one of the Councilors said College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan. At this I told them that the President, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Registrar, Treasurer and the Secretary were all surgeons. Where are the Physicians at which they just started looking at each other? I still remember Prof. Shoaib Shafi listening quietly.

I said you do not need a PhD degree to find out that you need to take all the stakeholders along with you. Not only that they have never elected any female physician to any of these offices. They got the message and at the next annual elections, Prof. Shoaib Shafi was elected as Vice President to give representation to physicians and Prof, Shireen Bhutta was also elected as one of the office bearers. After few months when I met Prof. Shoaib Shafi he thanked me saying that he was elected as Vice President since I had pointed it out. I told him I had pointed that out not to help him but on principle to give representation to different disciplines. When he later became President, he often said he became President because I had pointed it out and he always remembers it which I consider his greatness.

At yet another occasion the front three rows were empty during the CPSP convocation held at Karachi. Prof. S. H. Shafqat was the only one sitting in the front row as none of the faculty members of local medical institutions as well as Fellows from Karachi attended. After the convocation I asked Prof.Zafarullah Chaudhry in the presence of Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal, absence of faculty members and fellows from Karachi was a silent protest and a message. There seems to be some disconnect between the CPSP and its Fellows in Karachi which he must look into. As usual the organizers tried to cover it up by stating that they could not send the invitations in time. I am afraid this disconnect still persists to some extent, During the last two years of his Presidency, Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry once rang me up and complained that I have not met him since long. Was I annoyed with him or the CPSP? I said not at all. I promised to see him next day.

During the meeting as usual he welcomed me with an infectious smile and discussed quite a few things. I told him that as a well wisher of the CPSP I keep on pointing certain issues from time to time and was grateful to him and the Council for tolerating all that. Then I shared with him some perceptions like deterioration in the standard of training, examination. Many supervisors do not help the candidates at all and no action has ever been taken against them. Secondly some non-entities very juniors even Assistant Professors are selected as Examiners just to increase the vote bank. I also suggested that the CPSP should share 30% of the examination fee with the training institutions where they get training. It will help them to improve training facilities and they can also share some of it as honorarium with the respective supervisors.

He did not respond to this suggestion and kept quiet. I got the message he did not like it. I still believe the CPSP should consider it otherwise they will face lot of problems in the coming years. However, he listened very patiently and then said at times examiners are not available as we have too many exams throughout the year, some refuse or decline at the last minute and they have to ask the conveners to make emergency arrangements when even junior faculty members are also selected. They know it but face serious issues at times for selecting examiners. But I do appreciate your feedback, he remarked.
My next question to him was that Research Methodology workshops are mandatory for the postgraduates before sitting in exam and they all attend that.

However, even after that, many of them even do not know how to write structured abstract or a scientific paper. The quality of manuscripts that we the editors receive from CPSP fellows is not very good and at times gets rejected even during initial screening or editor’s triage. You need to look at whether your facilitators do not teach them properly or there may be something wrong with the contents of these workshops. I further told him that the postgraduates are required to know basic statistics so that they can read and understand paper but they are not supposed to become statistician. However, your facilitators and trainers give too much importance to statistics and don’t teach anything about the art of scientific writing which is essential.

I am myself an editor but have absolutely very little idea about statistics and when needed I get help of statisticians. Similarly the faculty members can also get help from statisticians if need be. He listened to me patiently and then asked, why don’t you come and attend one of these workshops and give us your feedback and we will make the necessary changes where needed. I agreed. He immediately rang up the concerned department and asked them that I should be invited as an observer in the next workshop on Research Methodology so that I can give some feedback.

I thanked him for this. Two weeks later I received a phone call from CPSP from someone whom I do not know. He asked me my name and then said you wanted to attend our workshop on Research Methodology but now all the seats are filled, they will consider me for the next workshop. I thanked him. That showed Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry weak administration. Such thing like this would never happen during Prof. Sultan Farooqui era as he always used to ensure implementation of his orders or decisions.

When Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry took over as President of CPSP many eminent medical personalities who were sidelined were invited, given due respect and asked to help CPSP in whatever way they can. Many visited CPSP after ten to fifteen years. Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry even had the decency of visiting many of them at their homes to extend personal invitation. He even invited Prof. Sultan Farooqui and his wife Prof.Shabnum Farooqui and took them on a round of CPSP campus and showed them the expansion and development the college had made during the past few years.

One can write a lot about his contribution to make CPSP a world renowned postgraduate medical institution and now it enjoys world recognition. I would once again like to thank Prof. Zafrullah Chaudhry on my personal behalf for his love and affection, and on behalf of my colleagues in Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) as well as EMAME because their help and valuable assistance has helped us a lot to promote the art of Medical Writing and Scientific Publishing. May Allah Pak rest his soul in Jannah and give courage to his family members to bear this loss. Aameen.

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